The Friday before last, I was lucky enough to attend a spectacular holiday event at The Hermitage Hotel: The Escoffier Society Christmas Dinner. The annual five-course dinner, with exquisite wines matched to each course, gives Capitol Grille Chef Tyler Brown and his talented team a chance to really pull out all of the stops and create what could very well be the best meal served in Nashville all year.
Officially known as the Les Amis d’Escoffier Society of Nashville, the group of 100 or so friends who annually gather at The Hermitage Hotel – as well as at other local restaurants throughout the year – is named in honor of one of the greatest chefs of all time, Auguste Escoffier. The international society with which the Nashville chapter is affiliated was started in 1936 at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. The purpose of the society is quite simple: to explore and enjoy fine food and drink.
Under the leadership of president Fred Dettwiller, the Escoffier Society of Nashville has grown in recent years and sampled the fare of many of Nashville’s finest restaurants. But the highlight of every year, society members tell me, is invariably the Christmas dinner in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, which has become a tradition over last five years. As a matter of fact, The Hermitage Hotel is the only establishment that the Escoffer Society regularly visits every year.
This year, once again, the Capitol Grille culinary staff outdid themselves. The full menu and wine pairings is listed below. The hotel wanted me to pass along their special thanks to Damian Serong of Omni Beverge, who selected and provided the wonderful wines we enjoyed with our meal.
Maine Diver Scallop: Chestnut, Satsuma orange, magness pear
WINE: Chablis AOC, Francois Servin
Braised Pork Cheeks: Pumpkin and salsify hash, Brussels sprout leaves, mulled cider jus
WINE: AP Vin Pinot Noir, “Rosella’s Vineyard” Santa Lucia Highlands 2007
Palmetto Squab: Persimmon and black walnut bread pudding, mustard greens, cranberry
WINE: Dierberg Estate Vineyards Syrah, Santa Maria, 2006
Four Story Hills Dry Aged Striploin: Matsutake mushroom, romanesco, celeriac, sauce bordelaise
WINE: Surh Luchtel Cabernet Sauvignon, Stagecoach Vineyards, Napa Valley 2005
Apple Stack: Cinnamon Sucre, Caramel Ice Cream, Vanilla Anglasie
WINE: La Fleur de Pin de Graves, 2005